How common is diabetes in cats? It varies depending on where you are.

Cats with diabetes most commonly suffer from the Type II form (80-90%) which occurs when glucose levels are high because cells in the body do not respond appropriately to insulin and when the pancreas is unable to produce enough insulin to manage blood sugar levels.

Diabetes tester
Diabetes tester. Photo: VCA Hospitals in the USA.
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles:- Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

So how common is diabetes in domestic gas? The answer depends upon your source. Cornell Feline Health Center state that “it is estimated that between 0.2% and 1% of cats will be diagnosed with diabetes during their lifetime”. Almost all will be Type II diabetes sufferers.

The 4 veterinarians who wrote Cat Owner’s home veterinary Handbook state that Type II diabetes otherwise known as sugar diabetes or diabetes mellitus “develops in about 1 in 400 cats”. If there are about 90 million domestic cats in America, there will be around 225,000 cats with Type II diabetes. On that 1% figure by Cornell there will be around 900,000 Type II diabetic domestic cat in the country.

RELATED: Average domestic cat weighing 13 pounds is at a high risk of developing type 2 diabetes

The Veterinary Practice website states that “diabetes mellitus” is estimated to affect around one in 200 cats and is the second most common endocrinopathy after hyperthyroidism”. On that basis, around 450,000 domestic cats in America suffer from the disease.

The Web MD website states that “Diabetes may affect more than 2% of all cats and the causes are not fully known. 2% of 90 million is 1.8 million.

Cure for type 2 feline diabetes
Cure for type 2 feline diabetes. Image: MikeB.

RELATED: Why are Burmese cats 5 times more likely than other breeds to develop Type II diabetes?

The conclusion on my research is that there is wide disparity on the estimated number of Type II diabetic cats in America which is slightly disturbing as it indicates a lack of control of the disease. I’ve chosen to refer to America as it the biggest “marketplace” for domestic cats. I think you will find a similar percentage of diabetic cats in other Western countries. I think, too, you’ll find less Type II diabetic cats in developing countries because there are less obese cats in developing countries because, in turn, there are less obese people.

A study published in 2006: Feline Models of Type II Diabetes Mellitus, states that the incidence of type II diabetes depends upon where the study is carried out. They concluded that the incidence of diabetes in cats ranges from 1 in 50, to 1 in 400. One in 50 is 8 times higher than one in 400 and will mean that, in the USA, 1.8 million cats suffer from it.

Diabetics are more prone to infection
Diabetics are more prone to infection

The important aspect of Type II diabetes is that the high blood sugar results in damage across the entire body. And it can be undetected until damage has been done. Some of the complications caused by consistently high blood sugar levels can be irreversible.

Poor glycaemic control can cause small blood vessel damage resulting in damage to the retina of the eyes. In addition, diabetes can cause Alzheimer’s disease, nerve damage, heart disease, kidney disease, damage to other major organs of the body, and a negative impact upon how the body responds to infection and manages pain. It is a devastating disease which is downplayed as it can be ‘managed’ with insulin injections. Excess weight is a known major cause. Losing it is a known major cure.

Does dry cat food cause feline diabetes?
Does dry cat food cause feline diabetes?

Below are some more pages on diabetes in cats.

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